300B Single Ended Output Transformers: Sophia Electric vs. Audio Note
Received date: February 1, 2012
After 200 hours, the Sophia 91-05's have opened up nicely. They may continue to improve with additional time so bare that in mind when considering these comments.
My wife, an orchestra conductor and I have done listening comparisons between the Audio Note 300 HiB C core transformers (Audio Note Transformers-73134 TXO-300-1-I-H306-H306-FC: $1127 for one transformer, or $2254 for one pair) and the Sophia's (91-05 300B transformers: $1000 per pair). We have concluded that one is not better than the other. The difference is in presentation.
Both have very good Low end and hi end frequency extension. The AN's are more detailed and seem to bring out solo instruments a bit more. The Sophia's seem to present the music as a "whole" not emphasizing any one part more than another. My Wife likes the Sophia's just a bit more and I liked the AN's just a wee bit more. She felt the Sophia presentation was a bit more like what she is used to hearing in the concert hall and I liked the bit of additional detail that the ANs have.
With my Audio Note AN-e LX HE speakers we both agree that there was a bit more synergy with the AN OPT's.
We chose the Sophia transformers baring in mind they are less than 1/2 the cost of the AN's and they are likely to continue to improve. Also since I am in breadboard mode, I can adjust a cap here or there for some presentation changes.
James, New York
Response from the designer Richard Wugang:
200 hours is the first step for output transformers. The real broken-in time frame for Sophia Electric output transformer is really at about 800 hours -1000 hours. So Sophia Electric wants users to wait for minimum of 200 hours before rushing for judgement.
Sophia Electric is using EI core and lab grade copper (more expensive than silver) for its transformers. Sophia Electric transformers get high frequency extension, mid-range magic, deep bass and creamy high frequency through winding method which is an art and science that is difficult to replicate without Sophia Electric's secret recipe.
While other makers use C core or R core for high frequency extension that is slightly bright by nature. Some audiophiles claimed C core and R core would get the sound like solid state and lose tube amplifier flavor and musicality in the mid range.
The reason you like small solo performance with AN is that a large volume presentation with more power output on Audio Note is not going to get as clear sound.
With Sophia Electric output transformers, you can pick up every individual voice from a large chorus. The sound is relaxed with less distortion and with the most musical presentation.'